The Blackhawks and Blues meet for the final time in the regular season, and there’s plenty on the line. The Blues lead the Central Division with 105 points, and the Blackhawks are in third place with 102 points. The Nashville Predators are in between them with 104 points. The Minnesota Wild are just behind the Blackhawks with 98 points.
The Blackhawks can finish as high as the top seed in the Central Division or as low as the first wild-card spot. They could play the Blues, Predators, Wild or the Winnipeg Jets in the first round.
The Blues defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in Chicago on Sunday. Blues goaltender Jake Allen made 38 saves and didn’t allow a goal after the first period. The Blues scored twice in the second period behind goals by Olli Jokinen and David Backes. Kris Versteeg scored the Blackhawks’ lone goal in the first period.
The Blues will be without Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Bortuzzo due to injuries. All three participated in the team’s morning skate. The Blackhawks’ Marcus Kruger and Kimmo Timonen also will not play. Kruger is sick, and Timonen has an upper-body injury. Patrick Kane's playoff status is still unknown. He has yet to be cleared for contact.
The Blackhawks’ lines are expected to be Kris Versteeg – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad – Antoine Vermette – Kyle Baun, Bryan Bickell – Andrew Shaw – Patrick Sharp, Joakim Nordstrom – Andrew Desjardins – Teuvo Teravainen. Their defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan Keith – David Rundblad, Johnny Oduya – Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson – Michal Rozsival.
The Blues’ lines are expected to be Jaden Schwartz – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie, Dmitrij Jaskin – Backes – Patrick Berglund, Steve Ott – Jori Lehtera – Ty Rattie, Chris Porter – Marcel Goc – Ryan Reaves. Their defenseman pairing are expected to be Carl Gunnarsson – Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester – Zbynek Michalek, Barret Jackman – Kevin Shattenkirk.
Allen is expected to start in net for the Blues. He is 21-7-4 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He’s allowed a total of seven goals in his last five starts.
Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks. He is 32-19-5 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. He’s held opponents to two goals or less in his last three starts.
The Blues are fourth in the league with a 22.1 power-play percentage and are tied for eighth with an 83.7 penalty-kill percentage. The Blackhawks are 20th with a 17.8 power-play percentage and seventh with an 84.3 penalty-kill percentage.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on facing the Blues: “At the end of the day, you got to be disciplined, you got to be smart. I think there’s enough history with us playing them in the playoffs last year and our meaningful games we’ve had throughout the season. This will be one more of them.”